Yesterday the Sunrise national breakfast TV program featured brief excerpts from an interview with me highlighting two related key trends: Physical retail is going contactless, avoiding touch where possible, and online retail is using haptics to enable touch and feel at a distance.
Every day we make choices small and large that lead our lives down a particular path, collapsing the infinite possible directions into the one reality we actually live.
I often say that a trend-watcher and a futurist are very different things.
Trend-watchers see what has happened and implicitly assume that it will continue into the future.
Futurists uncover trends and consider the impacts of and responses to those trends, that could sustain, accelerarate, slow, or potentially reverse them.
In fact one of the most pertinent questions when observing a powerful trend is what could stop or reverse it.
Fellow futurist Mark Pesce is an old friend. We first actually connected when he spoke at my Future of Media Summit 2008, but I had long before being inspired by his work, writing about Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML), which Mark co-developed, in my first book.
We happened to live 100 meters from each other in Sydney’s Surry Hills for a few years, and for many years now our work and positioning as futurists and keynote speakers has been highly aligned.
The world has always been uncertain.
Now perhaps it is more uncertain than ever before, not least in that new uses of technology are shifting the structure of society, business, and government, amplifying the manifold unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might play out.
In the past many leaders sought a sense of control, and in relatively steady-state environments they were sometimes able to achieve that.
However for many years already, leaders who have not been comfortable with the reality of a lack of control in a highly complex world have been sidelined or found themselves presiding over rapidly shrinking organizations.
Since the advent of coronavirus here has been a lot of work put into building virtual events.
However we are now realizing that having virtual audiences is an essential part of creating great events, energizing sportspeople, speakers, and performers and creating a positive feedback loop that is at the heart of a great in-person event.
We have already seen examples of this in soccer, notably of Danish team Aarhus teaming up with Zoom to put massive screens of fans in the audience.
From his decades of experience he says that you must focus on opportunity. Emphasizing threats simply increases resistance to change.
What makes this easier today is that fundamental shifts in the economy mean that opportunity can be exponential, generating even more compelling reasons for positive action.
However to seize those opportunities companies need to fundamentally recreate themelves, their old configurations are not adequate, deep change is essential.
See the video for John’s insights on this, or see below for a full transcript of the video.
Despite the deep challenges of the last decade, now overlaid with the dramatic impact of the pandemic, physical retail absolutely has a future. Much of that future will be through integrating useful technologies into the in-store experience to compete with the purely online experience.
This morning a segment on the Sunrise national breakfast show on the future of retail, shown below, included some thoughts from me on this (around 0:55 and 2:30).
One of my oldest and most central themes in my work as a futurist is interfaces. How humans can and will interact with technology will shape not just our future, but indeed who are.
We have only relatively recently begun to move beyond keyboard, mouse and screen interfaces to voice and a handful of early-adopter gesture controls.
The tech giants well understand the importance of providing the most compelling interface.
Since March many people feel they have been caught in a ‘Zoom hell‘ of back-to-back video calls throughout their waking hours.
While this would have seemed futuristic a few decades ago, it already feels deeply tired. We have all experienced the problems with engagement, attention, and effective collaboration on video-conferencing calls.
One of the most interesting directions for the next phase of virtual meetings is avatar-based meetings in augmented and virtual reality.
In this very interesting excerpt from my conversation with futurist and AR/VR expert Cathy Hackl on The Virtual Excellence Show, Cathy discusses the realities, potential, and pragmatics of avatar meetings, including a demonstration of one of the current offerings in the space, and her own experiences using the technology.